Sprint: I started out the sprint course misreading the map because 1 and 2 were on the same line, so I ended up running toward 2 and realized my mistake a little too late. So it started off shaky, but the rest went OK. Lots of guys trained specifically for the sprint and had unimaginably fast times. I finished that day being slightly discouraged at the level of competition which I had very little hope of ever competing against. There were not an extremely high number of traps; I feel the course could have been more interesting. Still it was a lot of fun: lots of alley ways to run through and some interesting route choices.
Long: This was much nicer. I started off making sure that I had a good first control: I took it slow and ran on my compass very closely and was able to nail it. That helped me get into the rhythm. The Irish kid who followed me three-fourths of the course last year started 2 minutes after me. He followed me from 3 to 4 which was a long leg where I got sucked into a Swede, broke off, and found 4 as he was entering it. Then the Irish guy followed me up through 6 where I once again got sucked into a Swede and Norwegian who both made 7 or 8 minute mistakes, so the lesson is never to trust the Swedes and Norwegians to know what they're doing! Fortunately I didn't see the Irish guy when I eventually found the control. The butterfly loops I took carefully to make sure to stay away from the green, and I was going at the same pace as a Swiss guy who was running through it. The open went fairly well. I was on top of a hill at one point, and there was a huge bolt of lightning and thunder. Fortunately I was almost done with the open area at that time. Getting back into the woods I got numbers 18 and 19; at 19 the Irish guy appeared again, and followed me for the rest of the course, just like last year, but I managed to outkick him in the last couple of controls where I also managed to beat a Czech into the finish.
I was pretty proud about the fact that after my big mistake on 6 and small on 7 I was able to maintain my focus and not dwell on my mistakes and continue to have a good run afterwards, which is what allowed me to have the results I did. Also, training I did the past year prepared me very well for the long distance; I was able to go right up to the end having taken one Gu at the 12th control and was able to finish fairly strongly.
Rest day: We visited the caves near the Slovakian/Hungarian border. The 15 minute drive was proportional to Erin's "short walks to the start", taking approximately an hour and a half. Although the caves themselves were very interesting; they had several cave formations which apparently are extremely uncommon such as ribbons, shields and bulls I think they're called. There was also a small section where there were terraces and each terrace was filled with a pool of water and the water was dripping over each terrace into the terrace below; it was gorgeous to say the least. There were many chambers of the cave; the entire experience was well worth the long drive. It was also blessedly cold in the caves. Despite how cold it was I didn't wear a jacket because I knew I'd want those temperatures when I got out so I stuck with the goosebumps and savored every minute of it.